Tuesday I attended an Equality and Identity Preliminary meeting among activist groups at my school. As a facilitator of the meeting I was given a question focused on being an Allie of a group. I had to travel from table to table and ask: Is it okay to speak up for a group you’re not a part of? The conversation was intriguing I appreciated the different views of my peers and elders, their opinions and stories. I hope we as activist groups have the ability to join forces more in the problems we face as communities on campus. Yet, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. At my third table our discussion took a turn, maybe it was because I was the only person effected by it.
I encountered a black sista at the table with natural hair, dark coco complexion, and a BLACK IDENTITY (Or Na). Her view on advocating for a group was “to only do so if you know enough about what they stand for, and the obstacles they face”. She then went on to say in order to better our communities we just have to “NOT GIVE A FUCK”. I was with her until she stated “she’s tired of being considered an African-American and has implicit biases towards this group of people. As a Nigerian-American I know very few “statistics” of African-American history and do not want to be placed into the same category. I AM NOT BLACK“. A young man at the table stated how interesting her view was taking that she is black. My point exactly!
I truly wanted to reach out and tell her to NOT hate the same blood that flows from me to you. After this encounter I decided to do some research on whether or not African and Nigerian-Americans share similar history.
See she should know that being “Black” is a broad term for individuals who have some degree of Sub-Saharan African ancestry (Nigeria included). In the 16th Century Spanish and Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to trade in Nigeria. “The Portuguese initially bought slaves for resale on the Gold Coast, where enslaved Africans were traded for gold. Because of this, the south-western coast of Nigeria and neighboring parts of the present-day Republic of Benin (not to be confused with the kingdom of Benin) became known as the “slave coast.”” Over the period of the whole slave trade more than 3.5 million slaves were shipped from Nigeria to the Americas. (I find it hard to not find one “AFRICAN-AMERICAN” in AMERICA who shares her “NIGERIAN-AMERICAN” identity). “Most of the slaves were Igbo and Yoruba, with significant concentrations of Hausa, Ibibo and other ethnic groups”. While doing more research I found astonishing facts on Nigeria’s’ role in the African Diaspora. Thanks to my encounter with her I have a new idea for my next research paper focusing on the many aspects of the African-American Identity.
My Message to My Fellow Sista Lies Below:
If being African-American doesn’t encompassed your Nigerian-American roots then what does? Is it wrong for me to get a test done to seek out my heritage and possibly find out we share the same bloodline? Is it wrong for me to get to know your culture? Is it wrong for you to see my struggles are yours too? Sista, the apple never falls too far from the tree. The tree of Africa that has birth many beautiful black children not just limited to those who’ve have been birth and walked her land. See, a piece of my Black Identity will never be able to trace itself back to its very beginnings. The “implicit bias” views you hold towards African-Americans WILL effect you the in the future. My Nigerian Sista our historical paths have crossed more than ONCE. Our people have shared the same boat of oppression, and have lived through the generational barriers curse of slavery. Whether or not you want to believe it you are BLACK and do share identities close to the African-American. Your personal preference of denial cannot deny OUR history.
Through this situation I look forward to understanding more about the many different identities of the African-__________ (you fill in the blank). Maybe because she didn’t know enough about African-American history she doesn’t feel the need to advocate………..Maybe…